As armed men commit 13 robberies at a time, Chicago alderman says ‘root causes’ must be addressed

Chicago police say a holdup crew committed 13 daytime armed robberies in about 90 minutes on Sunday, one day after they shot a man during a holdup in Logan Square. The offenders remain on the loose. On Thursday, another violent crew struck at least 14 times.

The robberies came after a local alderman insisted on Friday that Chicago police have a coordinated plan in place to end the months-long robbery surge that has plagued areas of the city.

Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) also said “root causes of violence” must be addressed to achieve “lasting results.”

Meanwhile, carloads of armed, violent men are allowed to repeatedly roam the streets, seemingly without a care in the world, as they commit more than a dozen robberies without being challenged by authorities.

In a community alert issued Sunday evening, Chicago police issued a familiar warning: armed men traveling in stolen Kias and Hyundais are driving up to pedestrians on the street. Two or three robbers get out of the cars and demand the victims’ property at gunpoint.

“In more than one incident, victims were injured by the offenders,” the alert warned.

Two of those injuries were inflicted on Saturday evening when one victim was pistol-whipped and another was shot.

Around 6:50 p.m. Saturday, the crew robbed a man near PNC Bank, 2300 North Western Avenue. The robbers struck that victim in the head with a firearm during the crime.

The approximate locations of the robberies that Chicago police linked to a single crew. | Multiplottr

At about the same time, they shot a 26-year-old man during a robbery in the 2500 block of North Richmond. Police said two robbers confronted the victim around 7:10 p.m. and shot him in the leg when he refused to surrender his property.

The group committed two other robberies during that spree: in the 3900 block of West Geroge at 6:40 p.m. and in the 2600 block of North Hamlin around 7:30 p.m., according to CPD.

On Sunday morning, they robbed victims in the 1700 block of North Keystone at 5:30 a.m. and the 4000 block of West Armitage at 5:31 p.m.

The big spree started about five hours later. That’s when, according to the Chicago police alert, the group committed armed holdups in:

  • the 1300 block of N Moorman St at 10:50 a.m.
  • the 2900 block of N Albany Ave at 11:00 a.m.
  • the 2500 block of N Rockwell St at 11:05 a.m.
  • the 2800 block of W Diversey Ave at 11:15 a.m.
  • the 4300 block of W Schubert Ave at 11:40 a.m.
  • the 4300 block of W Schubert Ave at 11:40 a.m.
  • the 3200 block of W Fullerton Ave at 11:50 a.m.
  • the 2100 block of N Spaulding Ave at 11:50 a.m.
  • the 1800 block of N Spaulding Ave at 11:50 a.m.
  • the 3600 block of W Potomac Ave at 12:00 p.m.
  • the 2400 block of N Spaulding Ave at 12:05 p.m.
  • the 1600 block of N Drake Ave at 12:05 p.m.
  • the 1400 block of N Cicero Ave at 12:10 p.m.

As before, police said the group consists of Black males wearing all black clothing and ski masks.

Back on July 21, Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) told constituents in his weekly newsletter that Chicago police had hatched a “concrete and collaborative” plan to end the seemingly endless robbery sprees. But, while police have made a handful of arrests, CPD supervisors have also repeatedly ordered cops not to engage with carloads of armed robbers that are within their sight.

On Friday, La Spata addressed the robberies again. Here is what he wrote.

I wanted to talk to you about the serious and urgent issue around robberies in our city and our ward. While carjackings are down 75% over last year, shootings are down 80%, homicides down 100% (genuinely, zero vs. four), I won’t sugarcoat the severity of robberies, up 72% over last year, with a particularly painful month of July and start of August. I am deeply distressed and frustrated by the experience many residents have had of having their possessions taken at gun point. We’ll be preparing a specific public safety newsletter for early next week, but I wanted to share some context and counsel from conversations with our police commanders.

First, this is a much broader issue than just the 1st Ward. In the past 28 days, robberies are up 292% in the 14th district, they are also up 275% in the 25th district, 247% in the 12th district, and 166% in the 16th district. No one says this to shirk responsibility, but to acknowledge at once that it is not our neighborhoods alone that are being targeted and that it will take coordination across many wards, police districts, and other partners to achieve the reduction that is needed.

Second, that coordination is already happening. I’m heartened to hear 14th Commander Collazo share on strategies being employed and resources shared across districts which has already led to several arrests, including felony charges this morning related to a carjacking in our ward at Armitage and Whipple. We will continue to communicate at a minimum weekly with our districts and will amplify their requests for effective tools, including but not limited to new lighting, pod cameras, license plate readers, and personnel.

Third, our commanders and my knowledge both affirm that we will not see lasting results without addressing the root causes of violence with immediate and long-term investments. This was made abundantly clear to me yesterday when I visited the Children’s Advocacy Center. Each year, over two thousand Chicago children walk through their doors who have been victims or witnesses of sexual and physical abuse. The trauma they are dealing with is almost unimaginable and it represents only a fraction of the violence happening in the lives of our youth. I will continue to demand investment to heal the violence and trauma in Chicago’s homes, knowing that it directly translates to violence and trauma in our streets. Collaborative, coordinated, data-informed, “both/and” strategies: this is the only way we achieve meaningful and lasting peace in our communities. I look forward to discussing this more with you over the coming days, weeks, and months.

One might suggest to the alderman that the reason there are so many armed robberies is not because there are legions of violent, underserved Chicagoans roaming the streets but, rather, that police simply aren’t arresting the very small handful of violent people who keep committing 13 or 14 robberies at a time.

While the robbery sprees have been happening for months, here is some of our more recent coverage:

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com